It was inevitable. In the Internet age, interest groups seeking influence in Washington are joining presidential candidates in discovering a new electronic tool to press their agenda: YouTube.
"Send your underwear to the undersecretary'' urges the actress in the Competitive Enterprise Institute's stinging 66-second anti-regulatory video posted on YouTube, a free video-sharing site that is a subsidiary of Google. The video blames a 2001 Energy Department rule for an energy-efficiency standard that it says has made new models of washing machines more expensive while getting laundry less clean.
The underwear video illustrates what other advocacy groups are finding out: YouTube is a cheap, creative way to get a message to a potentially vast audience. This slow migration is in addition to more traditional lobbying approaches, such as direct mail, Web sites and scripted phone calls to federal officials.
"This is the next step,'' said Missi Tessier, a principal with the Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying firm. She said her company is working on a YouTube piece pushing for more federal funding for basic research for one client, the Science Coalition, a group of research universities. "We are always trying to find ways to get our message out.''
Concerned Families for ATV Safety, which wants to keep children off all-terrain vehicles, turned to YouTube to lobby for more federal oversight at the agency and congressional level. One of the parents produced the video and posted it May 18.
"We decided to put it on to raise awareness about how dangerous the machines are,'' said Carolyn Anderson of Brockton, Mass., who lost a son in an ATV accident and is a co-founder of the group.
Some of the presidential candidates already have calculated that YouTube postings will reach the same younger audience that regularly visits social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. A few federal agencies have taken the plunge, too.
Officials at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said it expects its YouTube messages to be ridiculed, laughed at, remade and spoofed. And they are. Its anti-drug message is also reaching the right demographic.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission realizes that YouTube would be a great way to broadcast product recall and safety messages, though it has not produced a video for it.
"There are a tremendous amount of people who use that Web site,'' said Scott Wolfson, an agency spokesman. "But we worried about the integrity of the message being changed by users.''
The YouTube audience hardly seems like a demographic that would be interested in washing-machine efficiency. Still, the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute, which opposes energy-saving fluorescent bulbs and increasing the gas mileage of cars and trucks, has 43 videos on the site. Many of them are snippets of speeches and testimony with few user "hits."
And then there's the underwear video.
"We figured we would try a very fast, inexpensive campaign that would go viral," said Sam Kazman, general counsel at the CEI and head of its Death by Regulation project. The video went up May 16 and had 1,306 hits in the first week, a respectable showing, especially considering the subject matter.
Kazman said the campaign cost virtually nothing. He wrote the script and one employee did the acting and another filmed it.
The CEI Web site links to the video and to a June Consumer Reports magazine article that rated top- and front-loading washing machines for energy efficiency and performance. The magazine found that since the Energy Department issued an efficiency rule in 2001, the performance of various machines has varied widely.
"Not so long ago, you could count on most washers to get your clothes very clean," the article says. "Not anymore. Our latest tests found huge performance differences among machines. Some left our stain-soaked swatches nearly as dirty as they were before washing. For best results, you'll have to spend $900 or more.''
Kazman, who said he owns a 21-year-old Whirlpool washing machine, took this as confirmation that predictions his group made in 2001, that the rule would wreck a "low-priced, dependable home appliance," have come true.
The manufacturers of home appliances, energy-efficiency groups and regulators who are being mocked in the video disagree.
Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor at Consumer Reports, said the underwear campaign takes the ratings out of context. "We support energy standards for washing machines,'' she said. "There are alternatives that will wash as well as older machines. They cost more to buy but not to operate."
"I think it's obnoxious; I don't think this dog barks,'' said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project in Boston, a coalition of industry, consumer, environmental and state interests.
DeLaski, who was involved in the negotiations that led to the 2001 rule, said it was expected at the time that prices would go up but that consumers would save on utility bills.
"That's a regulation working pretty damn well," he said, adding that consumers can expect to save $80 annually on utility bills with the new models.
Michael McCabe, a senior engineer at the Energy Department, said that nine out of 10 models Consumer Reports tested are in the price range the department predicted when it issued the rule, an extra $250.
On the underwear front, Kazman said he sent his own (clean) underwear to the Energy Department. The department said the mailbox of Undersecretary Dennis R. Spurgeon is still empty.
Kazman blamed the late delivery on another government policy, which subjects packages to irradiation.
It should be obvious that the USCIS doesn't make changes because we spit fire on this forum.
That is exactly why we would be better of trying to use this forum for honing our arguments instead of punching imaginary bags and getting all riled up.
This is probably my last post on this topic but I'll sure be visiting to enjoy all the shouting and screaming!
OP is long gone. Your post is full of big brave words and no substance. If you want to have a discussion and demonstrate your "intellect", please make some rational arguments and back them up. There is no lawsuit discussion here, just a debate on the merits of BS+5 PD porting
Here's the logic behind this debate as I see it (not that there is much logic in the way the immigration laws/rules are framed)
A person with a Master's or a PhD has spent 2-3 or 5-6 years respectively to get their degrees but do not get a priority date reflecting that time spent on acquiring the qualifications.
On the other hand a person with a bachelors who gets 5 years experience can port their priority date while moving from EB3 to EB2 thereby getting credit for time spent.
Porting is law while the Bachelor+5 is due to some memo. This memo does not take into consideration the above inconsistency and therefore this debate.
I hope this sounds logical to atleast some of you folks.
In short, he is doing this EB-3 bullshit just to get maximum mileage out of this in his favor. Given a chance, he would jump ship to EB-2 and not give a damn about EB-3 India.
Expanding on these points, if you, the reader, are an EB-3 or ported to EB-2 and work in the oh-so-familiar IT bodyshops, go suck on those sour lemons.
How dare you fuck@#n compare yourselves to EB-2?
Cant you FUC@#N understand what the phrase "preference category" means????? go get a higher education, change employers, get an EB-2 the right way.
Stop this bullshit you have going on. I for one will write my own letters to ensure none of this EB-3 India whining nonsense gets any attention. I will also mobilize other EB-2 India and China folks i know, to do the same.
If that does not succeed, i will slap a lawsuit against any organization that attempts to twist the rules to imply EB-3 and EB-2 are the same skill level.
Let us see who wins here. In the interim, go suck on those sour lemons and work for your blood sucking desi employers. Serves you right for being lazy and not trying to help your lot before.
Will rot for 7 years in EB-3, but will not get a US MS/MBA/PhD, will not change to an EB-2 job, and then when EB-2 gains something, will cry and create a ruckus????? Go screw yourselves.
EB3-I..please print the attached word doc and sign and mail it to Department of state..this week
Moderator could you makes this Sticky please
Could somebody also post the adderess of USCIS please..
2011 Salma Hayek and Francios Henri
I think a lot of AC21 cases are getting rejected because of the revocation of I140, Companies don't want to keep the people on their list if he/she is not working, because they have to prove the ability to pay for all those people as well. so they are revoking the I140 for people who are not with them anyore to reduce number of people in their list with USCIS.
The problem here is no one (consulting company/employee) bothered to make sure that a person on H-1B was allowed to do consulting. I'm not sure who dropped the ball - companies, employees, or the immigration lawyers. But someone should have raised a flag when the type of job was really a temp job. Unfortunately that did not happen.
Now that the damage has been done, and USCIS is coming after such folks, they are upset that it is happening to them. Again, do note that I am not saying the consultants themselves are less skilled than anyone with FT job. I'm just saying that at the time they got into consulting they did not think of the various consequences. Maybe because no one ever thought that working at different locations, benching, temp nature of the jobs were all against H-1B visa rules?
You get my point?
face it as long as the economy is tanking this is going to be an ongoing debate. Everything goes thorugh stages of high and low and we are now expereincing the lows of having the h1b's.
Sledge While your points are valid, remember folks do not choose consulting (nor do students) as a first choice but I have friends who were employed without any issues directly with client companies who in the midst of recession decide to fire everyone. What are you options if your GC is denied because the company declared bankruptcy? How do you justify to yourself staying with the employer when they files you under Eb3 category when you a master's degree holder from one of the 10 best universities in the US? What are the employee choices here, just pack up and leave? leave houses, friends and people you stayed with many years.
You think they haven't searched for full time positions with other companies only to be turned back? or worse case restart the entire GC process and forgo the 6+ years?
And the experiences I am relating are from the 2001 recession. I have already seen history repeat itself now but my more fear is that tomorrow USCIS will unfortunately hit the person who followed all the rules After all how is the USCIS knowing which are the good companies and which are bad? These very things are happening and very much can happen to you as well. Do not sit on a high perch and think it will not trickle down to me
A senior Justice Department official who recently resigned her post bought a nearly $1 million vacation home with a lobbyist for ConocoPhillips months before approving consent decrees that would give the oil company more time to pay millions of dollars in fines and meet pollution-cleanup rules at some of its refineries.
Sue Ellen Wooldridge, former assistant attorney general in charge of environment and natural resources, bought a $980,000 home on Kiawah Island, S.C., last March with ConocoPhillips lobbyist Don R. Duncan. A third owner of the house is J. Steven Griles, a former deputy interior secretary, who has been informed he is a target in the federal investigation of Jack Abramoff's lobbying activities.
>> Savings on tax deductions/yr: $ 4,050 (30% bracket, $13.5K interest)
This assumption may not be correct. You can take tax deduction for mortgage only if you forego standard deduction. Assuming it is a 3 people household (Mr., Missus and Master) - you would forego the standard deduction of around 10k. So the marginal tax saving would only be around 1k assuming 30% bracket.
In case you itemize anyway (small business owners typically have to do this) - then your calculation of $4k in net tax saving is correct.
My calculation would be:
Your expense is
item# 4 +
- Corrected item# 9
Item #8 is NOT a mitigating factor to your monthly expenses. To earn the quity - you have to make the same amount of cash payment - cash which you could have used in any other form of investment.
So the total would be
13k + 9k - 1k ~ 20-21k.
So - in this example - renting would come out quite a bit ahead.
However, in ValidIV's example buying would be superior to renting.
2010 Francois-Henri Pinault Salma
I think you missed my point. I was not trying to connect the ARM reset schedule with write-offs at wall street firms. Instead, I was trying to point out that there will be increased number of foreclosures as those ARMs reset over the next 36 months.
The next phase of the logic is: increased foreclosures will lead to increased inventory, which leads to lower prices, which leads to still more foreclosures and "walk aways" (people -citizens- who just dont want to pay the high mortgages any more since it is way cheaper to rent). This leads to still lower prices. Prices will likely stabilize when it is cheaper to buy vs. rent. Right now that calculus is inverted. In many bubble areas (both coasts, at a minimum) you would pay significantly more to buy than to rent (2X or more per month with a conventional mortgage in some good areas).
On the whole, I will debate only on financial and rational points. I am not going to question someone's emotional position on "homeownership." It is too complicated to extract someone out of their strongly held beliefs about how it is better to pay your own mortgage than someone elses, etc. All that is hubris that is ingrained from 5+ years of abnormally strong rising prices.
Let us say that you have two kids, age 2 and 5. The 5 year old is entering kindergarten next fall. You decide to buy in a good school district this year. Since your main decision was based on school choice, let us say that your investment horizon is 16 years (the year your 2 year old will finish high school at age 18).
Let us further assume that you will buy a house at the price of $600,000 in Bergen County, with 20% down ($120,000) this summer. The terms of the loan are 30 year fixed, 5.75% APR. This loan payment alone is $2800 per month. On top of that you will be paying at least 1.5% of value in property taxes, around $9,000 per year, or around $750 per month. Insurance will cost you around $1500 - $2000 per year, or another $150 or so per month. So your total committed payments will be around $3,700 per month.
You will pay for yard work (unless you are a do-it-yourself-er), and maintenance, and through the nose for utilities because a big house costs big to heat and cool. (Summers are OK, but desis want their houses warm enough in the winter for a lungi or veshti:))
Let us assume further that in Bergen county, you can rent something bigger and more comfortable than your 1200 sq ft apartment from a private party for around $2000. So your rental cost to house payment ratio is around 1.8X (3700/2000).
Let us say further that the market drops 30% conservatively (will likely be more), from today through bottom in 4 years. Your $600k house will be worth 30% less, i.e. $420,000. Your loan will still be worth around $450k. If you needed to sell at this point in time, with 6% selling cost, you will need to bring cash to closing as a seller i.e., you are screwed. At escrow, you will need to pay off the loan of $450k, and pay 6% closing costs, which means you need to bring $450k+$25k-$420k = $55,000 to closing.
So you stand to lose:
1. Your down payment of $120k
2. Your cash at closing if you sell in 4 years: $55k
3. Rental differential: 48 months X (3700 - 2000) = $81k
Total potential loss: $250,000!!!
This is not a "nightmare scenario" but a very real one. It is happenning right now in many parts of the country, and is just now hitting the more populated areas of the two coasts. There is still more to come.
My 2 cents for you guys, desi bhais, please do what you need to do, but keep your eyes open. This time the downturn is very different from the business-investment related downturn that followed the dot com bust earlier this decade.
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So whats the way out for people who get into this situation ? Find a job with a non-consulting company and start everything H1/GC from scratch ?
As long as the employer/employee relationship exists, an H-1B alien is still in status. An H-1B alien may work in full or part-time employment and remain in status. An H-1B alien may also be on vacation, sick/maternity/paternity leave, on strike, or otherwise inactive without affecting his or her status.
Honestly; uscis/dos don't care much for this. Maternity is a pretty good reason and is verifiable.
Other then that; department of state; uscis don't care for it much. They have enough data on companies that if it happened to a person in one quarter then ok. However, if there are a number of people who fit the profile then it gives less credibility.
I'll give you an example: DOL comes to investigate a particular person whom DOS has referred. Now; they go through the whole list of people (they actually do this); and see that every person who arrived into the country was on bench for three months...gives less credibility to the person's argument.
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Little Johnny's teacher asks, "George Washington not only chopped down his father's Cherry tree, but also admitted doing it. Do any of you know why his father didn't punish him?"
Little Johnny replies, "Because George was the one holding the axe?
house Francois-Henri Pinault and
Why someone whose permanent labor certificate is approved should have to go thru the process of adertising when his or her H1 is up for renewal? Can you please explain me what is the intent of permanent labor certificate as opposed to LCA in H1?
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We (IV Core) have no problem with dissent or discussion. Both gc03 and learning01 each expressed their opinions on reacting to Lou Dobbs.
On the issue of what to do about Lou Dobbs:
(1) Lou Dobbs is no friend of ours (immigrants) -- he absolutely doesn't make the list of people we should thank! A little googling will tell you more about Dobbs and his immigration politics. He is using this argument today to further his ends. Not just Dobbs but other anti-immigrants are on a divide and conquer path to kill this version of CIR.
(2) IV as a group has plenty else to do, so there will be no IV-wide response to Lou Dobb's comment of the day.
On the other hand, all of our members are individuals, and they are free to express their opinions by calling or writing, so long as they do not claim that these are the opinions of IV as a group.
pictures Garros. Actress Salma
you can give more pleasure to yr family when you rent.
the bubble that we saw and are seeing is once in a life time event - it will never happen in USA for a long long time (in most places). it will happen more in places like bombay (2 bubbles in last 2 decade).
you just have to read financial websites to see the enormity of the problem. some are super worst scenarios and some are bad scenarios ..so I guess most likely outcome is somewhere in between(in terms of recession ) and RE market -- i.e. drop of 10 to 25 %. for 300K house that would be 30 thousand minimum.
when u rent it gives you tons of mobility ..which people don't understand (especially house wives). being able to rent near my job and again move when my company sends me somewhere (or other similar situations) ..that std of living - I can never get by owning a million dollar house. and renting is not throwing money esp in these times (say $250 is prop tax, 200 extra due to commutes / yardwork / utilities, 200 more in HOA, insurance etc + maintenance etc etc)
when you add couple $100 to the above you get a place to rent --without worrying much as to what yr kids draw on the walls. plus if u invest the diff in diversified funds ..you would get more peace of mind.
In the end though it depends on personal situation ... but rushing to buy now on EAD is bad idea ..it is never good idea to catch a falling knife.
ofcourse if you have tons and tons of money and don't mind taking a loss then sure ..Buy. not just here maybe buy another house in India / Bahamas etc ...
Let me just ask you one question. Assume that the house prices start to rise again, everything comes back to normal and it is the right time to buy a house. Would you then buy a house if you still do not have a GC and you are on EAD.
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I need to find out how many people are interested in pursuing this option, .....
Why ppl jump from EB3 to EB2? because EB3 backlog is huge and they are waiting since 4/5 yrs to get GC.
if these 4/5 yrs experience added, then they are eligible for EB2.
To stop jump from Eb3 to EB2 best way is to make EB2 current, so EB3 start getting GC and they stop comming to EB2.
So Lets put efforts to clear backlog, which IV is doing rather differenciating our friends based on different categories.
we should do progress togather. Remember we are I + We (IV).
makeup husband Francois Henri
In a sprawling conference hall in a prison on the outskirts of India's southern city of Hyderabad, a dozen-odd prisoners are tapping away furiously on computer keyboards.
It is an unusual sight: the prisoners, mostly sentenced to life for murder, are training to become workers in a unique outsourcing unit that is coming up at the impressive 43-acre Cherlapalli jail.
They are in the middle of a typing accuracy and speed test, having been set a target of typing 35 to 40 words a minute. Other prisoners are shadowing them.
Of the 2,000-odd inmates, nearly 70 are engineering graduates, say prison authorities.
By end of January, they believe, India's first BPO [business process outsourcing] unit in a prison will begin working with 50-odd inmate "employees" from an in-house meditation centre which is being transformed into a factory.
It will specialise in non-voice based, off-line outsourcing work like digitising records, legal documents, scripts, manuscripts and text books, and medical transcription, says K Mohan Menon, a manager with Radiant Info Systems, a US-based info-tech company which is assisting the venture.
It helps that Hyderabad is a BPO hub, generating some 50 million rupees ($1.1m; �717,922) annually in revenues from non-voice based business alone.
"We cannot let prisoners get online and communicate with the outside world. So we opted for an offline business. Some people and companies have already shown interest and we expect some orders soon," says prison chief G Jayawardhan.
The convicts get a paltry 15 rupees [33 cents] per day for other work like making steel furniture or working on looms in the prison, but authorities expect to pay them 100 rupees [$2.2] to 150 rupees [$3.32] a day for working in the BPO unit.
M Nageshwar, 37, a software engineer who worked with a company for 10 years before he ended up in prison, is leading the pack of convicts who are training to work at the unit.
He was found guilty of killing his wife - he says she committed suicide - three years ago and sentenced to life.
Mr Nageshwar has contested his conviction in the Supreme Court.
"I am excited about the project. Educated people like me can easily slip into depression when they are incarcerated. It is a relief for convicts like me and a good opportunity to prove ourselves," he says.
"Also, remember," he whispers, "an idle man's brain is a devil's workshop."
G Rama Rao, who was sentenced to life 15 months ago for murdering a political opponent - he says it was a case of "political conspiracy" - echoes a similar sentiment.
Mr Rao is a postgraduate in commerce from a leading university and owns a rice mill, which his family runs in his absence.
"As an educated man, I can't find good work in a prison and get bored. I can't do all the factory work here. At my rice mill, I did my accounts on the computer. So I will use my skills to spend time better," he says.
'Living in hope'
Most convicts believe that their work experience with the outsourcing unit will fetch them jobs if and when they are released.
Ravi Kumar, 26, was an army clerk for seven years, before he ended up shooting a colleague dead while he was posted in Indian-administered Kashmir.
A commerce graduate, Mr Kumar says he has worked on computers in the past.
"When I come out of prison, this is going to help me," he says.
Twenty-four year old Mahesh Goud, who has been in the prison for 14 months in connection with the murder of a friend, is an electronics graduate.
He worked in a hydroelectric plant as an electrical engineer for nearly two years, earning $280 a month till the crime.
"I am feeling useful again. I am spending time more fruitfully. I hope this is a success," he says.
Bank manager Ratna Babu, 53, was working with a state-owned bank before he was arrested on charges of misappropriation of money, a charge he denies.
The case dragged on for 13 years before he was sentenced to six years in prison about a year ago.
Mr Babu says he began learning computers only three months ago.
"After I am free I will never get a job in a bank. I want to work for a BPO then. This training will stand me in good stead.
Mr Goud agrees wholeheartedly.
"It will help in my future. All of us will be released one day. All of us have to go out and find work then. This experience will help us. We all live in hope, don't we?"
Outsourcing unit to be set up in Indian jail (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8677486.stm) By Omer Farooq | BBC
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Pakistan is a begging bowl which is trying to blackmail US by threatening to pull out troops from Afgan border..so US and UK are trying to pacify India telling them that they will put pressure on Pak to do something.
And you know what a bigger joke is? your slum dog cum president who told Larry King that no one from "his part of the country" were involved in the attack!!! What is his part of the country? his toilet seat??? It has not been 1 year since he killed his wife he was jumping all over Sarah Palin like a horny dog!! Barking dogs seldom bite, so don't just thump your chest just yet. When the fox has to die it runs towards the lion. That is what Pakistan is doing by pretending to pose as if it will go to war with India. If India attacks Pak will fold it's tail between its legs and run to US, like Nawaz sherif did during the Kargil war. We have beaten you in 4 wars, how may more beatings will it take for it to sink into your thick skull that Pakistan can NEVER beat India. Period!!
Pakistan will disintegrate with in the next few years if they don't seek India's support in whacking them Jehadi SOB's. Baluchitan, NWFP, Sindh are all going to be independent countries and the Pak president can easily rule " his part of the country"
Buddyinsfo you might try to bring friction among Indians by pitting people from different states against each other, but remember when it comes to any outside force we are all Indians first and we will Kick your Ass...
This is like an ant taking on an elephant, if half the men in Punjab, Guj and Rajastan stand on the border and Pee; Pakistan will be washed away in a flood of Urine...If you poor people want to get killed, there are better painless ways than enrage India. So it is in Paks best interest to request India to come in clean up the terrorist camps which are now turning against Pakistan itself!!
Pranab Muks, the foreign minister needs to be applauded (?) for creating a drama of sorts by setting up the army against Pakis assuming that the Pakis will give in to the pressure and return the militants that India is looking for. On the other hand, the Prime Minister ManMohan Singh was consistently giving out statements that India is not in favour of war and never was (completely contradicting Pranab Muks' moves) and as per the latest news that emerged out of nowhere (???) there seemed to have been some kinda communication between the military officials of both the countries and they've come to some sort of understanding that war was not in the best interest of both the countries and only dialogue was as India was apprehensive as to what Pak's response to a military strike wud be...the drama continues and its a big joke. With China playing the mediator and India (silently and 100% dependent on US and UK put pressure on Pak but to no avail) had to succumb to the boomeranged efforts by playing the peace game now. One only needs to wait to see what happens next. But one thing is for sure...India will never strike Pakistan at a point when there is really no open support from anywhere. At some point (yesterday?) the honorable Prime Minister was looking for Iran to pressurise Pakistan (by calling Ahmadinejad) and this in itself speaks volumes !!! India is making a joke of itself...Had it been US, they'd have made a strike at Paki's terrorist sites in no time (as they did after 9/11). Its been over a month of Mumbai strikes and the way India is showing its weakness makes us wonder if they really have solid evidence against Pakistan. The latest news goes like...The Mumbai Govt has ordered probes into the attacks...Wonder what needs to be probed now(after one month) and that too after the entire nation has been made to believe that it was always Pakistan and claiming and shouting at the top of their lungs that they had SUFFICIENT evidence!!!!
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Personally, I don't think one necessary needs a immigration attorney for this. This is a public interest litigation. The task is definitly not easy but if 50 people can join hands and willing to shell out $500 dollars. It is doable. But I doubt that will happen.
We have approx 35K members and not even 2k people contributed to our cause if not 100 at least $5. Not sure how do u expect $500 -1000 for a failing cause. If you take the pain others will happily enjoy the fruit.
Most of us may agree with porting but not LC substitution as it is you are eating somebody's vomit.
You and OP joined the forum recently and not sure how much u have contributed to our cause, rather causing unnecessary stir.
By the way I have contributed $200 ( and more in line) and participated in phone and fax campaigns and got at least few more new members with contribution.
The first Democratic-led Congress in a dozen years limped out of Washington last night with a lengthy list of accomplishments, from the first increase in fuel-efficiency standards in a generation to the first minimum-wage hike in a decade.
But Democrats' failure to address the central issues that swept them to power left even the most partisan of them dissatisfied and Congress mired at a historic low in public esteem.
Handed control of Congress last year after making promises to end the war in Iraq, restore fiscal discipline in Washington and check President Bush's powers, Democrats instead closed the first session of the 110th Congress yesterday with House votes that sent Bush $70 billion in war funding, with no strings attached, and a $50 billion alternative-minimum-tax measure that shattered their pledge not to add to the federal budget deficit.
"I'm not going to let a lot of hard work go unnoticed, but I'm not going to hand out party hats, either," said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.).
On Iraq, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said yesterday: "Nobody is more disappointed with the fact that we couldn't change that than I am." But Pelosi was not about to accept Republican assertions that her first year as speaker has been unsuccessful, saying: "Almost everything we've done has been historic."
Unable to garner enough votes from their own party, House Democratic leaders had to turn to Republicans to win passage of a $555 billion domestic spending bill after the Senate appended $70 billion to it for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war funding passed 272 to 142, with Democrats voting 141 to 78 against it.
The Democratic leaders again had to appeal to Republicans to win passage of a measure to stave off the growth of the alternative minimum tax, because fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats were in open revolt and refused to go along. The Blue Dogs insisted that the Senate offset the bill's cost with tax increases on hedge-fund and private-equity managers.
Needing two-thirds of the House to pass under fast-track rules, the tax measure was approved 352 to 64, with all 64 "no" votes coming from Democrats standing by their pledge not to support any tax cut or mandatory spending increase that would expand the national debt.
The year's finale angered the entire spectrum of the Democratic coalition, from the antiwar left to new Southern conservatives who helped bring Democrats to power last year.
"This is a blank check," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). "The new money in this bill represents one cave-in too many. It is an endorsement of George Bush's policy of endless war."
Still, the Democrats delivered much of what they promised last year. Of the six initiatives on the their "Six for '06" agenda, congressional Democrats sent five to the president and got his signature on four: a minimum-wage increase, implementation of the homeland security recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, college cost reduction, and an energy measure that requires conservation and the expanded use of renewable sources of energy.
Federal funding for stem cell research was vetoed by Bush.
Congress also boosted spending on veterans' needs. Just yesterday, Democrats unveiled a proposal to create the first nonpartisan ethics review panel in House history and passed the most significant gun-control legislation since the early 1990s, tightening the instant background-check process.
Beyond those, Democrats secured the biggest overhaul of ethics and lobbying rules since the Watergate scandal. And they passed a slew of measures that have received little notice, such as more money for math and science teachers who earn more credentials in their field, tax relief for homeowners in foreclosure, a doubling of basic research funding, and reclamation projects for the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast.
With the exception of the new energy law, Pelosi characterized most of the year's accomplishments as a cleanup after years of Republican neglect or congressional gridlock.
But the long-awaited showdown with Bush on the federal budget fizzled this week into an uncomfortable draw. The president got his war funding, while Democrats -- using "emergency" funding designations -- broke through his spending limit by $11 billion, the amount they had promised to add after Republicans rejected a proposed $22 billion increase in domestic spending.
Remarkably, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) praised the final omnibus spending bill in glowing terms, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called keeping federal spending at Bush's preferred level "an extraordinary success."
"Our work on holding the line on spending gave us an omnibus that is better than I've seen in my 17 years here," Boehner said yesterday. Twelve of those years were spent under Republican rule.
But the disappointments have dominated the news, in large part because Democrats failed on some of the issues that they had put front and center, and that their key constituents value most.
The military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, remains open. Bush's warrantless surveillance program was actually codified and expanded on the Democrats' watch. Lawmakers were unable to eliminate the use of harsh interrogation tactics by the CIA.
Democratic leaders also could not overcome the president's vetoes on an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, despite winning over large numbers of Republicans. Policies that liberals thought would be swept aside under the Democratic majority remain untouched, including a prohibition on U.S. funding for international family-planning organizations that offer abortions.
Efforts to change Bush's Iraq policies took on the look of Pickett's charge at Gettysburg. From the first days of the 110th Congress to its last hours this week, Bush prevailed on every Iraq-related fight, beginning with February's nonbinding resolution opposing the winter troop buildup and ending with this week's granting of $70 billion in unrestricted war funds. Emanuel tried to call the $70 billion funding a partial Democratic victory because it was the first time the president did not get everything he sought for the war. Bush had requested $200 billion.
Some senior Democrats have grown so distraught that they do not expect any significant change in Iraq policy unless a Democrat wins the White House in 2008. "It's unfortunate that we may have to wait till the elections," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) said yesterday.
This has left many Democrats resorting to openly political arguments, picking up a theme that Republicans hurled at them -- obstructionism -- during their many years in the minority. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) conceded that it is time for Democrats to forget about trumpeting accomplishments that voters will never give them credit for -- and time to change the message to a starkly political one: If you want change, elect more Democrats.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the Senate Democratic whip tasked with trying to find 60 votes for a filibuster-proof majority, acknowledged this week that Democrats' biggest failure stemmed from expecting "more Republicans to take an independent stance" on Iraq. Instead, most of them stood with Bush.
"Many of them will have to carry that with them into the election," Durbin said.
Hamas is such a coward orgn that they hide behind school, mosque, hospitals to shoot their rockets, so they really are luring israel to bomb those areas. Unfortunately innocents die...the blame should be on hamas. In fact, before bombing Israel even goes to the extent of calling and texting people in the target area to warn them before bombing. which country at war you know does that. Inspite of all these the biased media portrays Israel as the evil one. time to think. if only india shows some courage like that.
Oh really? Thats how they bombed the school and killed more than 40 kids?
When terrorists attacked Mumbai, Indian commandos took 3 days to rescue hostages and kill terrorits.
When terrorists entered school in Baslan, Russia, Russian commandos took their time to respond in order to minimize the casualty and rescued most of the children and killed all those terrorist.
Do you think same thing happend in Palestinian school? There are certain rules that has to be followed during war. Rules of engagement. Not to kill innocent civilian, not to kill kids, not to bomb place of worship, hospitals etc. Do you think these are followed anywhere in anywhere while killing muslims?
If Israel want to kill terrorist, they have every right to kill those terrorist who kill Isrealis. Instead they are bombing kids. Which is not acceptable by any people or any nation.